Black Twinberry - Lonicera involucrata



General Spreading to erect .[WildPNW] 0.5-4 m. tall [HNW] young twigs 4-angled in cross-section [PCBC2004]
Lifecycle Deciduous.[IFBC][E-flora] Perennial.[WildPNW]
Flowers Yellow.[USDA][E-flora] "1-2 cm long; in pairs in leaf axils..."[PCBC2004], "...trumpet-shaped, with 5 lobes. surrounded by 2 pairs of large green to purple bracts"[WildPNW] "which become reddish or dark red as the fruit matures".[HNW]
Fruits Black.[USDA] shinny. paired.[E-flora] and "cupped by 2 pairs of deep- purplish-maroon bracts".[PCBC2004]
Leaves Opposite. Somewhat hairy beneath.[IFBC][E-flora] 3-14 cm long.[HNW] somewhat elliptical to broadly lance-shaped. [PCBC2004]
Habitat "Calcareous woods, banks of streams and swamps[43] and in open coniferous forests[155], usually on limestone[184]."[PFAF] at all elevations except alpine. [WildPNW] Clearings and thickets as well.[PCBC2004]
Range Common in BC south of 58 degree N.[IFBC-E-flora]
Status Native.[E-flora]
Ecological Indicator
"A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, transcontinental North American deciduous shrub. Occurs on very moist to wet, nitrogen­rich soils (Moder or Mull humus forms). Tolerates fluctuating groundwater tables. Widespread in boreal, temperate, and cool mesothermal climates; scattered to plentiful in the open or in broad-leaved forests on water-receiving (alluvial, floodplain, seepage, and stream-edge) sites and on water-collecting (swamps and fens) sites. Persists on cutover sites where it may hinder natural regeneration and growth of shade-intolerant conifers. A nitrophytic species characteristic of alluvial floodplain forests. "[IPBC] [E-flora]
Similar Species Two varieties occur within our area, with var. involucrata occurring in the mountains and var. ledebourii (Esch.) Jeps. being coastal. [HNW]



Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"Twinberry was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a range of complaints[257]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism." [PFAF] "The bark and twigs were used in a variety of medicinal preparations, ranging from treatments for digestive tract problems to contraceptives." [PCBC2004]


The berries "were given names like 'raven's food,' 'crow berry,' and 'monster's food' by northwest coast peoples. There were some taboos against eating them. For example, the Kwakwaka'wakw believed that eating the berries would cause one to become unable to speak." [PCBC2004]


"Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure." [PFAF]

"An easily grown and very tolerant plant, succeeding in any fertile soil, and preferring a good moist soil in a sunny position[11, 200]. It produces less fruit when grown in the shade[200]. Plants have proved to be quite wind resistant when growing on an exposed site in Cornwall[K]. Plants are hardy to about -25oc[184]."[PFAF]

Herbivory: "Another species of checkerspot, Euphydryas gillettii, feeds primarily on Lonicera involucrata (Caprifoliaceae), which contains secoiridoids that could not be sequestered by larvae of this species (Bowers and Williams, unpublished data). Larvae would only obtain sequesterable iridoid glycosides if they wandered off L. involucrata and fed on other iridoid glycoside-containing plants that contain iridoids that could be sequestered, such as aucubin, catalpol, or macfadienoside." [Rosenthal HerbV1]


"Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 2 months cold stratification[113] and should be sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with or without a heel, July/August in a frame. Good percentage[78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, 15 - 20cm with or without a heel, November in a cold frame. Good percentage[78]. Layering in autumn[200]." [PFAF]

"Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) has been used...for the detoxifying nature of its medicine....numerous compounds that have been identified with antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory natures..."[InvasivePlantMed]


Page last modified on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 8:20 PM